When no bush of the field was yet in the land and no small plant of the field had yet sprung up—for the Lord God had not caused it to rain on the land, and there was no man to work the ground, 6 and a mist was going up from the land and was watering the whole face of the ground— 7 then the Lord God formed the man of dust from the ground and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life, and the man became a living creature. 8 And the Lord God planted a garden in Eden, in the east, and there he put the man whom he had formed. 9 And out of the ground the Lord God made to spring up every tree that is pleasant to the sight and good for food. The tree of life was in the midst of the garden, and the tree of the knowledge of good and evil. – Genesis 2:5-9
We were in the college philosophy class where I had been very up front about my Christian faith. Two guys in particular decided to take me on. One chided me for believing Jesus’ words in Matthew 5 about not worrying about tomorrow, “for tomorrow will have enough trouble of its own.” He dismissed it out of hand as futile and foolish. I was amazed that anyone would be so bold in rejecting any of Jesus’ teachings. Silly and innocent me.
The other challenger hit me with, “You believe the Genesis account of creation?” “Yes I do,” I replied. “Well then how come there are two different accounts? One where man is made after the plants and the other before?”
I didn’t know what to say. I had not studied that carefully enough, so I was stuck without an answer. I later asked my pastor about this and he showed me that Genesis 2 is a recapitulation of the sixth day of creation, and that the reference about no plants growing is specifically about the garden itself.
God is setting the stage for the Divine Drama that is soon to unfold. This is preparing the stage for the moment that the “Oops” will become “Ugh.”
A typical drama will unfold in this manner (Thanks to Gene Lowery, The Homiletical Plot):
- Oops! Something is not quite right here.
- Ugh. There’s a real problem here.
- Aha! Maybe there is a way out.
- Whee! The hero did it. We’re saved!
- Ahhh. A time of reflection on the good result.
Things are getting set for the OOPS. It’s already clear that there’s going to be an oops, when we read about the presence of the tree of life and the tree of the knowledge of good and evil. These two trees will come into play by the end of Genesis 3. And though the stage is only being set, be sure of this: there will be trouble. But there is a tree of life. Even is there is a tree of the knowledge of good and evil.
My encounter with those two skeptics in my college philosophy class was an “oops” moment. It became an “ugh” moment when I realized I needed to be more savvy to satan’s ways and means. That’s a lesson I’m still learning. And I’m thankful that the end of the story is one of joy and celebration. The drama will unfold. It will take centuries to play out, but the end will result in the praise of God’s glorious grace. Mine included. Yours?